The Sunshine Coast is a region northwest of Vancouver that is accessible only by boat, ferry or plane and includes the communities of Gibsons and Sechelt.
Other small communities in the region include Powell River, Roberts Creek, Pender Harbour and Desolation Sound, among others.
The Sunshine Coast
If you’re looking to escape the city and explore rural coastal British Columbia, then the Sunshine Coast is the perfect place to visit. It’s home to Coastal Mountains, rugged nature and beautiful ocean scenery.
The Sunshine Coast is not part of Metro Vancouver. Like Whistler though, and other places within a couple of hours’ drive, the Sunshine Coast is a popular destination for day trips and overnight stays.
Getting to the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is connected to BC’s Lower Mainland, but not by road. There are also no bridges to the region.
Travel with BC Ferries
BC Ferries has departures leaving Horseshoe Bay for Gibsons’ Langdale ferry terminal up to about a dozen or so times a day from early in the morning until late at night. Travel time is about 40 minutes and the distance is 10 and a half nautical miles.
The cost of return travel with BC Ferries (at the time of writing this article) is around $14 for adults, half price for children ages 5 to 11, and free for kids ages 4 and under. Seniors travel free Monday to Thursday on non-statutory holidays, but pay full fare at other times. Vehicles cost around $50 return after taxes.
For more information about ferry-travel details see the BC Ferries website.
Air Travel to the Sunshine Coast
Traveling to the Sunshine Coast by water can be an amazing experience on a sunny day. Travel by air is equally if not more impressive, although also more expensive.
Harbour Air offers seaplane service to Sechelt which is about a half-hour drive northwest of Gibsons.
What to Expect
The Sunshine Coast is rural, mountainous, beautiful, laid back and very “West Coast.” Tiny seaside communities are scattered throughout.
The region is famous for outdoor recreation. People visit for camping, mountain biking, kayaking, cycling, hiking, fishing and climbing opportunities. The Sunshine Coast is also popular simply as a place to escape.
With a population of over 4500, Gibsons is the third largest community on the Sunshine Coast (after Powell River and Sechelt). It’s home to the BC Ferries’ Langdale Terminal and so the main point of access to the region from Vancouver.
Gibsons is also the most famous community on the Sunshine Coast, having been the setting for The Beachcombers, a popular CBC television series that ran from 1972 until 1990.
Gibsons is located at the southwestern tip of the Sunshine Coast. From the Langdale ferry terminal to Gibsons Landing (where much of The Beachcombers TV show was filmed) is about a 12-minute drive.
What to See and Do in Gibsons
Gibsons is a nice little community. The waterfront and area around the marina is beautiful, and shops and restaurants are close by.
Molly’s Reach is a great restaurant, and famous for being at the heart of The Beachcombers TV show. Close to it is the Persephone (the boat from the television program) on display for people to take photos of. Across the street is Mike’s Place, which is the place to go for gelato.
If you walk south of Gibsons Landing and Molly’s Reach for about 10 minutes via Gower Point Road you’ll come to the Gibsons Public Market. It’s a small-town gathering place with a small permanent market downstairs, plus a larger outdoor market on Fridays between 1:00 and 6:00 pm from mid-May until early October.
At the Gibsons Public Market, food in the upstairs cafe is delicious and downstairs you’ll find half a dozen artisan shops selling fresh produce, flowers and the best ice cream sandwiches in town.
Gibsons is also home to three different craft beer breweries – Gibsons Tapworks, Persephone Brewing Company and The 101 Brewhouse + Distillery. The Persephone Brewing Company is especially interesting as it has its own farm and is a socially-responsible B Corporation. Their beer is really good too!
With a population of just over 10,000, Sechelt is the second largest community on the Sunshine Coast (after Powell River).
Just outside Sechelt is Porpoise Bay Provincial Park which is popular for its beach and campsites.
For ideas on things to do in Sechelt, check out the Sunshine Coast Tourism website.
Sunshine Coast Events
A number of festivals take place on the Sunshine Coast most years including the following:
- Pender Harbour Blues Festival – in early June.
- Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival – in late June.
- Prisma Festival – in Powell River in mid to late June.
- Rogue Fest – 3-day outdoor music festival in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast in August.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your visit to Bowen Island.
TIP #1: If you like craft beer, order a Persephone. It’s a great beer that’s brewed in Gibsons by a socially-responsible business. They also grow hops on their own farm using organic growing practices. To get to the brewery from the harbour you’d have to take a taxi. You can enjoy their beers though in any one of a number of the local establishments.
TIP #2: If you’re in the area, Gibsons is a nice place to stop for a bite to eat and do a little exploring. For a small town, the selection of restaurants is pretty good. Find a place for lunch, maybe somewhere else for coffee, and then go to Mike’s Place for some gelato.
For further information about the Sunshine Coast, its various communities and things to do in the area, click Sunshine Coast.
For details about the Gibsons Public Market, click Gibsons Public Market.
Other Vancouver’s Best Places’ articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Day Trip Destinations
- Bowen Island
- Lower Mainland Parks & Nature
- Metro Vancouver’s Top 100 Places